Written by Noor Zahra Zamalik
Have you ever experienced seeing kids around you watching YouTube everywhere they go? These kids could be your family members, relatives, or children of friends whom their parents give absolute freedom to hold onto devices, allowing them watch videos from YouTube with limited guidance. Since 2013, YouTube has become the most popular on-demand service with more than half of the audiences accessing TV and video via the site. According to Ofcom’s report, youngsters between the age of 5 – 15 years old spend about 15 hours each week online, whereas preschoolers aged 3 – 4 years old are spending around 8 hours and 18 minutes a week online.
Image credit: Dailymail.co.uk
73% respondents aged between 5 – 15 years prefer YouTube as their popular online destination to access to multiple content genre, while 37% of preschoolers typically select video contents with cartoons and mini-movies. However, do the parents realize that some of the content in these videos are inappropriate to be viewed by kids? Sadly, there is a huge number of videos on YouTube that showcase parodies based on kids’ cartoons such as Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer series, depicting adult themed contents, uploaded by irresponsible producers. These videos are obviously inappropriate for the original show’s target audiences. Hence, this ‘new’ content is dangerous in the sense that it would be mistakenly adopted by the child as the real thing.
Image Credit: YouTube.com
Many channels on YouTube share videos of popular cartoon characters and have been ensuring that their content is safe and child-friendly. However, there still exist contents which are beyond a child’s imagination as they are found to illustrate violent or sexual undertones. In a video entitled “Doc McStuffins”, the lead character is shown to have been injected with needles, covered in blood and throwing stones at neighbours’ homes. Another one, in a series called “Toys and Funny Kids Surprise Eggs”, its videos are titled as “Naked Hulk loses his pants”, “Baby Hulk bites baby Elsa” and “Spider Baby cuts Elsa Dress”. According to the report, some of the popular scenes in YouTube is where the model of Elsa from “Frozen” character became pregnant and is about to deliver a baby, but she is naked in a bath tub and has intercourse with her spouse, which is a Spiderman character. Fortunately, some of these channels have been removed from YouTube after parents voiced out their concerns.
The Internet has given freedom to children to view any content of their interest, instead of being tied to the programmes from the television and magazines. In 2012, a Californian teen died from a freak accident after trying to duplicate a stunt he saw on YouTube called the “good kids’ high”. It was reported that the teen and his two friends were watching a YouTube video of how to pass out on purpose before trying it out themselves.
As such, there are evident risks involved when parents do not restrict certain contents for their kids to view. It may end up in tragedy, violent or criminalistics behaviour, as well as exposing children to sexual intercourse from a very young age. Although YouTube offers a ‘restricted mode’ at the bottom of the page to avoid inappropriate contents, the option does not look promising as it is not 100% filtered, nor is it accurate. To remedy this, YouTube Kids app was introduced for kids and most of the videos here are filtered from having dangerous contents.
Image Credit: The Conversation
It is only natural that kids’ development grow when they use the Internet and participate in online video viewing. However, as YouTube deals with a larger targeted audience, it is hoped that parents are more alert and observant of the online contents viewed by their kids.
Lupkin, S. (2012, Sept 28). Dangerous Stunt Seen on YouTube Hurting, Even Killing Teens. Retrieved from abc NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/dangerous-stunts-YouTube-hurting-killing-teens/story?id=17342485
Murphy, M. (2017, March 27). These Sick YouTube Videos are Disguised as Popular Cartoons. Retrieved from New York Post: http://nypost.com/2017/03/27/these-sick-YouTube-videos-are-disguised-as-popular-cartoons/
Ofcom. (2016, November 16). Online Overtakes TV as Kids’ Top Pastime. Retrieved from Ofcom Making Communications Work for Everyone: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/features-and-news/childrens-media-use
Panda Security. (2017, May). Is YouTube Safe for Your Kids? Retrieved from Panda Mediacenter: http://www.pandasecurity.com/mediacenter/family-safety/YouTube-safe-kids/
Wakefield, J. (2015, March 27). Children Spend Six Hours or More a Day on Screens. Retrieved from BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32067158